1.1 General Background
Nepal is one of the small countries in the world. Situated in the lap of the Himalayas, it is
located in between the latitude 26o 22' to 30o 27' north and longitude 80o 4' to 88o 12' east and
elevation range from 90 to 8848 meters. The average length is 885 km. east to west and
average breadth is about 193 km. north to south. Geographically it is divided in three regions:
Mountain, Hill and Tarai. The country is bordering between the two most populous countries
of the world.
Social structure of Nepal is very complex, which has been highlighted by various foreign and
Nepalese scholars in their writings. Unity in diversity is the major characteristic of Nepalese
national culture. To explain its diversity Professor Tony Hagen has rightly said that Nepal is
one the ethnic turntable of Asia.
Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country where more than 60 ethnic
groups can be found. It is a meeting ground for different people and culture situated at the
natural boundary and the watershed that’s runs through the middle of the largest continent in
the world. Nepal has traditionally attracted and given shelter to the people from all directions,
east, west, north and south. So development is equally important along with the geographical
space in the process of national development. Almost all ethnic groups are considered as poor,
some belongs to upper class from the point of view of social, political and economical aspect
but the national development must cope with them all which requires the social, cultural and
economical improvement of those communities. Otherwise not only Nepal but all others poor
countries will remain poor forever.
Ethnic diversity gives birth to the religious diversity. A nation cannot exist if we leave the
diversity. The whole society here is recognized as a Nepalese society in spite of much
diversity. Ethnic diversity produces diversities in almost all the aspects of culture. Human
group can easily be separated due the ethnic diversity. More separation among the group
brings different types of elements in the society, like quarrel, murder, crime and other evil
things. Due to the result of struggle between castes and sub-castes, a certain group may be
destroys or exiled. Nepalese society is a unique example of the mixture of different caste and
ethnic groups living together. Believing in communities' work, cooperation accepting legally
inter-caste marriage and equality in the caste, religion, community recognition instead of
personal recognition are the aspects of equality in the diversity.
The Mountain, Hill and Tarai have distinct natural features along with the population
characteristics. Sherpa, Bhote etc are from the mountain, Rai, Limbu etc are from the hill and
Satar, Tharu, Yadav, and Mushar etc are from the tarai in their geographical identification.
Among the different ethnic groups, Satar is one of the indigenous group having their unique
culture, traditions and rituals. Their total population is 42698, 0.19% of the total national
population where as in Jhapa district they constitute 23,172 (3.66) (CBS, 2002). In the study
area (Chandragadhi VDC of Jhapa district) their population is 548 (3.41%) with 77
households. They are considered as very poor people and land of their own is rare. They make
their home near the forest area or on the bank of the river. They celebrate their own culture,
own beliefs and rituals.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The national economy of Nepal fully depends upon agriculture. So the agriculture is the
backbone of economy. The productivity in agriculture sector has been declining on account of
lack of irrigation, fertilizers, modern agriculture equipments and agriculture credit. By this
backwardness in agriculture, it has affected not only other people but also to the Satar groups
who are fully depended on fishing, gathering of tumor and hunting. One of the main reasons
of poverty among the Satars is limited access to the agriculture and land and although they
live in Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari district of eastern Nepal which is sounder than western
Nepal in the case of agriculture, this group is almost poor and landless group. Also their
access in agriculture is uncertain in the future due to the low concentration by the government
and they have no any chances in the future to own the land. These groups are living on others
land mostly owned by the upper caste groups.
Because of high agricultural productivity in these areas, migration from hilly region of eastern
part is becoming another big problem and it is affecting to the Satars day by day. People
migrate from the hilly region to these three districts and own a land for their needs, by this,
these Satar groups have to leave the land where they are living and settle on another person's
land. Because of the poverty and landlessness they have to do this several times. At this time
they don't get any option but to leave the place where they are living as soon as possible.
The hill based groups are not only clever but also some people use forces to capture the fertile
land of indigenous people like Rajbanshi, Dhimal and Satar. Although these indigenous
people almost do not have land, few land owner may be victims of hilly people and loose
whole or part of their land. Even the households who had agricultural land, due to the lack of
irrigation, agriculture inputs, chemical fertilizer and technical know-how, every year the
productivity is decreasing and not sufficient to maintain the living standard and compelled to
sell a plot of their land. Many of them have becoming agricultural labor.
Even if we called, quot;Nepal is a garden of flowers,quot; the flowers are sucking and plucking by the
clever upper groups. The unfortunate is that not only clever groups suck and pluck lower
ethnic group but the same ethnic groups also doing that kinds of job within the same groups.
The clever people are capturing more properties and the lower economic class people are
becoming poorer and poorer.
The majority group dominates some of the ethnic groups and their cultures: some of the
minorities are oppressed and exploited by the majorities who make up the ruling class. Thus,
some of the ethnic groups, minorities, tribes and indigenous people can be encompassed into
the disadvantaged group. We found pluralism in our country. Each and every ethnic group has
its own culture, economy, social and religious relief and their culture plays significant role in
the national cultural and nation building process. If unique culture of the Satar is neglected, it
will be incomplete explaining the Nepali culture.
1.3 Significance of the Study
Nepal is known as the garden of different flowers. It demonstrates that there are different
ethnic groups, which have their own language, culture, dress, lifestyle etc that is influenced
with the climate and the economic condition of that groups as well as the influence of
development and the development of other groups of people.
In primitive age, people used to live in the forest and their main occupation was hunting. They
lived in-groups and the stronger groups have been dominated the weak groups. During the
period of time, different ways of dominating the groups of people and the countries were
emerged. After the “Industrial Revolution” of 17th to 18th century many “Industrial countries”
made colony to the third world nations for their market and for raw materials, minerals etc.
When the light of education was spread to the colonial countries, the people started fighting
against the imperialist and made their countries independent. In Nepal after the Rana regime,
it started establishing the schools, collages, the facility of road and air transportation etc. The
economically upper class of people and the upper class generally utilized these facilities.
In the same way, in Jhapa district, the tribal castes like Dhimal, Satar, Rajbansi and Meche are
also influenced economically as well as socially by the Brahman, Chhetri, Rai, Limbu and
Gurung. The hill based ethnic groups of people started to migrate in this district. At the
beginning of migration they settle at the foot of the hills and after the opening of east west
Mahendra highway, they gradually scattered along with this highway. The process was
continued and the program of Punarbas and the construction of North-South linkage road, like
Birtamode-Kechana, Dudhe, Mahabara, Surunga-Jhapa, Padajungi-Gauriganj, helped the hill
base ethnic groups to reach up to the Nepal-India boarder.
The Satars are relatively disadvantaged community. This community is in crisis. They are
affected by modernization and westernization. So, this study basically centers on and around
the socio-economic status of the Satars of Chandragadhi VDC of Jhapa District.
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study is to analyze the socio-economic status of Satars of the
The specific objectives are stated as:
1. To trace out the cultural status of the Satars in the study area
2. To find out the social condition of the Satars
3. To assess the impact of other cultures on their culture
1.5 Limitations of the Study
The present study had focused on the socio-economic statu of the Satars of Chandragadhi
VDC of Jhapa District, Nepal. Every social science research is not beyond the limitations and
it is not the exception of that. Some limitations of this study are as follows.
1. The study was conducted at Chandragadhi VDC of Jhapa district and the
generalization of this study may or may not be applicable to other places or
2. This study was conducted with financial limitations and in a limited time framework.
3. Simple statistical tools were used to analyze the data.
4. The study represented only a selected community for research but not the whole
1.6 Organization of the Report
This report has been organized into seven chapters. Chapter one deals with the background of
the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, significance of the study and
organization of the study. Chapter two mainly deals with the review of literature from related
published materials. Chapter three deals with the research methodology including rationale of
the selection of the study area, research design, nature and sources of data, sampling
procedure, techniques of data collection and presentation and analysis of data. Chapter four
presents the profile of the study area. This chapter covers introduction, climate, population
characteristic, educational, economic and other aspects of the study area. Chapter five presents
socio-economic and demographic status of the Satars of the study area. This chapter also
discuss about age and sex structure, educational attainment, family system, occupation,
employment, size of land holding, annual income, livestock, religion, feasts and festivals, life
cycle ceremonies, and other social and cultural aspects of the social and cultural aspects of the
Satars. Chapter six mainly discusses the impact of modernization on culture of the Satars. This
chapter mainly deals with modern education, Sanskritization, effects of Nepali language,
effects of technological development and other aspects of the Satars. The last chapter presents
the summary, findings, conclusions and recommendations of the study.
Although some indigenous and foreign sociologist and anthropologist have studied on
different ethnic groups of Nepal, only few have concentrated their study on Satar people of
eastern tarai region of Nepal. Among the Nepalese scholar Prof. Dor Bahadur Bista who has
attempted to sketch an ethnographic map of all ethnic groups of Nepal. He has presented
ethnographic picture of the Satar's traditional, sociological and cultural lives in brief. His
contribution is purely descriptive. Bista has noted that the Satar people are tarai people living
alone the southern boarder with India. They can be comparing with the Tharus of tarai and
believed to be same people as the Santhals of Bihar in India (Bista, 1972 A.D.).
The ancestral place of the Satar people is not actually known, although it is hypothetically said
that they must have migrated to Nepal from the district if Dumka, Santhal province, due to
some pull factor (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.). But, what are the pulling
factors for their migration is not described in detail in this book. So, it gives information to
readers mainly on the custom and beliefs of the Satars. This book is also unable to show the
pure sociological as well as anthropological study of the Satar people. It gives only the general
introduction of these Satar group. According to this book Satar is the name of the caste that
belongs to Austic family although the Satar people seem like Mongolian at first sight. In India
they are called Santhal and Sotal but in Nepal they are called Satar.
In general, they are short, small headed, black, wrinkled color at white part. They are simple,
honest and brave (Dahal, 1994 A.D.). About the name 'Satar' there are different opinion
presented by different intellectuals. Soota is considered as a place of Midanpur, Bengal and
from Soota some assumed that Satar originated and then the Satar and Santhal (Mechi Dekhi
Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D). The Satars are one of the ancient ethnic groups of Nepal
(Shrestha and Singh, 1987 A.D.).
The authors stated that their origin is still obscure, but most probably they are migrated from
Santhal Pragnnas and chota Nagpur of Bihar, India. Satars are Indian ethnic group in Nepal.
They are migrated into the eastern plain region of Nepal from Dumka district of Santhals
Pragnnas, a subdivision of Bihar state, nearly 6-7 decades ago (Dahal, 1978 A.D.).
Characterizing the Satars as the Santhals of Bihar, India Shah (1975) has further mentioned
that they are nomads who traveled back and forth across the Nepal-India border. He has
additional opinion that Bodes and Dhimals are classed with Satars because they live close to
each other. Many writers have the opinion that the Satars are the tarai people but some regard
them as the indigenous people of Nepal while others disagree with their own views. The
Satars are not indigenous people of Nepal and they are recognized as recently entered caste in
the tarai (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.).
Satars shift one area to another and comeback to the original place few years later. They may
be said to practice shifting cultivation that in contact to other tribal and mountainous part of
Asia, is not common in Nepal. They supplement their income from fishing and hunting (Shah,
1975 A.D.). According to Prasain quot;Satars must have migrated to Nepal from India in different
times from different parts of India as well as Bangladeshquot; (Prasain, 1985). Dwivedi (1982) has
also tried to give a general introduction of Satars but he failed to talk about the pull factors of
Satars are aboriginal of Nepal. The tarai region is for the most part inhabitants by two groups.
Firstly, there are the aboriginal inhabitants of the malarial forest, such as Tharus, Danuwars
and Satars (Poffenburger, 1980:9).
Dalton (1972) has provided a mythical legend about the origin of the Santhal. According to
legend, a wild goose came from the great ocean and lighted at Ahiri Pipri and there laid two
eggs. From those two eggs a male and a female were produced, who were the parents of the
Santhal race. From Ahiri Pipri our progenitor migrated to Hara Duhie, and there they greatly
increased and multiplied and were called Kharwars. Then they removed to Khairagarh and
Hurredgarhi and eventually settled in Chai Champa in the Hazaribagh district, where they
remained for several generations.
Satars can be found in different countries including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka,
Maldives and Mauritius etc. In maximum number they are found in India (Dahal, 1994 A.D.).
In Jhapa they are specially found in Dhulabari, Chandragadhi, Jyamirgadhi, Dhaijan,
Kakarbhitta, Duhagadhi, Anarmani, Garamani, Haldibari, Bhadrapur, Mahespur, Saranamati,
Kumarkhod, Taghandhubba, Chakchaki, Surunga, Satasidham, Mahabara, Sibagunj, Rajgadh,
Ghailadubba, Charpane etc. In some area they are found in groups and otherwise they live
individually. In Morang they live in Urlabari and other areas joined with Jhapa district. In
Sunsari they are found in Inarwa and Itahari (Dahal, ibid).
In Nepal the Satars are found only in Jhapa, Morang and Sunsari and if they are found in other
districts they should be there for a temporary job (Sharma, 1997 A.D.). Among the whole
population of the Satar, about 50% are found in Jhapa (Jhapa Jilla Ek Chinari, CBS 2004).
According to population census 2001 of CBS their total population is 42, 698 and among them
23, 172 live in Jhapa. But their number is decreasing these days.
quot;There is Jagmajhi, who look after the morals of the boy and girls, second a Paramanik, whose
business is to attend to the farming arrangements. He disallows any monopoly of peculiarly
fertile rice land; all must share the good and bad. He had to look after the new settlers. Third
Naia (Nayak) village priest, the land is assigned to him, but out of profit of his state, he has to
feast the people twice in a year at the festivals of Sarhul and Moimuri for the blessing of crops
(Dalton, 1972 A.D.).
Similarly Dalton has the view that the Santhal have their own traditional, political institute
known as Panchayat, which serves as a governing mechanism within the community.
Law and order within the community is mentioned with the help of village council. The
decision of the village council is obeyed without any hesitations by the villagers. The council
of the village is presided over by the Majhi who is appointed as the head man with the
unanimous support of the village (Bista, 1972 A.D.).
Prof. Bista writes about the political institution that each village has a council of elders which
is found necessary to discu the problems and disputes among the community members. Bista
has the view that the culture of the Satar people is different with Brahmin and Chhetri. Satars
are free in pre-marital activities. Virginity of the Satar bride is not necessary, the culture and
society of Satar community allows the girls to have a sexual contact with anyone, but it is
demanded that she should not be pregnant. In the case of pregnancy, the boy had to marry her.
The freedom of pre-marital sexual relation, marriage and divorce is easy among the Satars.
There is no judicial procedure like other ethnic groups such as Brahmins and Chhetri. The
couple can easily divorce each other paying certain amount of money and no one force them
to stay each other (Kattel, 1985 A.D.).
Satar do not practice early marriage. Usually the age of the bride and groom are twenty of
more than that. The young people enjoy absolute freedom in pre-marital activities. In the case
of pregnancy, the lover is expected to marry the mother of his baby or at least it is his
responsibility to find a husband for the girl, which is not difficult, but in such cases he is also
expected to pay compensation against the delivery expenses of the girl (Bista op cit: 139).
Gautam (1990) has noted that child marriage is not in vogue among Satars. Generally, a Satar
marries at the age of eighteen.
There are also many types of marriage in the Satar community like Kirin Vahu Valpa, Thunki
Dipil Valpa, Hirom Chetan Valpa, Sangya Valpa etc. The main link who fixes the pre-
marriage talks is the Wad-Ama. The bride and a groom only meet each other for the first time
on the day of wedding. Among these Satar, marriage between people of the same step or sub-
step is not permitted and this is prevalent so as to avoid clashes in the agnatic linage, which is
head or 'bone'. Discreet sharing of an elder brother's wife is seen to exist among these folks
indicates the survival of fraternal polyandry which seems to have been a common feature in
those ancient times (Gautam, 1994 A.D.).
Prasain (1985) explain that 'Sakamara' in Satar language mean divorce accused in society by
tearing leaf. If a husband wants to divorce his wife, he should pay certain amount of money
which is known as 'Poon'. Poon varies with the types of marriage. It should be paid either in
cash or in kind, but the amount should be double of that girl. If a wife wants to divorce her
husband, she should be paid fixed amount in accordance with marriage types. But the amount
is only 50% paid by the boy (p: 55).
Separation of married couples is extremely easy and easily done among the Satars. If the
couple stop linking each other or as they says 'fall out of love' then they are perfectly eligible
for filing divorce, which is decided by their council. If their council considers the female to be
at fault, then payment is reciprocation to the poon must be dully reimbursed to the folks of the
males. If the male is found at fault, then according to the council's decision, he must reimburse
double the poon that had been paid. Should someone desire to divorce his wife with any valid
reason, then she must be presented with clothes, rice grains, a cow and utensils, although
today money is used at this compensation, due to its practical uses. If a women is barren or a
widow being sent back to her parent's home, then also item mentioned above must be
presented to them as compensation for their expulsion (Gautam, 1994 A.D.).
quot;Divorce is frequent among Tharu. There is no ceremony a ritual for divorce. If a women
moves back with her parental family, the husband cannot legally force her stay with him.
Traditionally the husband could only ask for a refund of the bride prize and repayment of
some of the marriage expenses. A divorce Tharu women doesn't loose her ritual status, unlike
a Brahmin, Chhetri women, although, some Tharu disapproved of a frequent divorcing
womenquot; (Gautam, ibid).
Likewise the Satars of eastern Nepal, the Tharu community of western Nepal had same
cultural system. The Tharu women or a man has also freedom of pre-marital sexual activities.
There is also very easy process of divorce and it is frequent among the Tharus. The husband
also pays some amount to the wife and wife should return her ornaments and amount to the
husband family. She should not loose her social status (ibid).
Gautam (1994) also noted that thus unless and until females remain unwed, Satar women are
the exclusive property of their parents. It is only after the poon is accepted then these females
become the property of their husbands-to-be.
Satars are very simple people who can easily intermix with other people and culture. They
simply wear cloths: male Kachhad and Dhoti while female wear Guniu (ibid).
Generally the male appear in Baniyan and Gamcha while female with cottage sari on her
wrist, Cholo on her breast and Odhene on her head. Today young generation of Satar can be
seen with modern clothes. There is a wave of modernization in the Satar community. Because
of the necessity of introducing themselves to modern civilization and new time, there is a
change in their culture (Dahal, 1994 A.D.).
The dress up of the Satar is very ordinary, with the males wearing dhoti and kachhad which
cover their loins or regions below the waist. The female wear clothes which are similar to the
Sari but they are wrapped around the torso covering the breast and groin area in a loose
fashion. The children are normally naked. Ornaments worn by these females consist of
bangles, kalli and such made out of brass with silver chains around their nicks (Gautam, 1990
Satar community is divided into different clan units. They don't marry within their own clan
(ibid). Dalton (1972) divided Santhals into twelve clans- Soren, Murmu, Mardi, Kisku, Bisra,
Hansda, Tudu, Baski, Hemrom, Karwar and Chorai.
Their most favorable food is meat. They use any kind of birds and animals for their food
(Dahal, 1994; Shrestha, 1982 A.D.). Basically, they include fish in their daily meal so they
live near the jungle and on the bank of the river. Drinking is their way of life. They need Jaand
for every ritual, festival. Jaand is their heart (Dahal, 1994; Bista, 1972 A.D.).
Among the Satars, the oldest male member of the family has an important role to play. As
long as the family's wealth remains consolidated and in one piece, it remains under the
protection and authority of this male. After this family splits, when the males marry and
established their own separate nuclear families, then their wealth is also shared accordingly.
Regarding sharing of live stocks, here it is necessary to mention that the female household
members also receive a share as is customary (Gautam, 1994 A.D.).
In a joint family not only parents and children, but also brothers and step brothers live on the
common property. In other words if two or more married brothers live together with or
without their children it is called a joint family system (Poudel, 1998 A.D.).
Extended family consists of two or more nuclear family affiliated through on extension of the
parent's child relationship, rather than of the husband-wife relationship, that is by joining the
nuclear family of a married adult to that of these parents as stated earlier on extended. Family
consists of a person parents, his wife and children (Pandey, 1996 A.D.).
They have their own court to judge their appeals and other conflicts headed by Majhi, a
chairman (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.). So they seldom go to the official
courts and VDCs. The Majhi or Manjhi Hadam has supreme power to solve the cases of
murder and rape too.
Although it is observed that Satar are currently adherents of Hinduism, their religious tradition
are completely unrelated to Hinduism and based on their tribal tradition (Gautam, 1994 A.D.).
Gautam also noted that currently these Satars have begun to fallow Christianity. Although the
church has not been found or constructed, they do gather masse at a predefined spot and pray.
Day by day, the numbers of the Satar Christian are increasing.
Simply the Satars are Hindu. They worship Thakur Jyu, Morang Baru and Mareka (Agni).
Their gram God is Ato Banga (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.). Satar follows both
traditional and Christian religions (Dahal, 1994 A.D.). Traditional Satars who own Hindu
religion celebrate along with other Hindus. In this process they celebrate many Nepali local
cultures. But the Christian Satars celebrate feasts and festivals at the time when traditional
Satars celebrate their rituals, because in their caste there are no fixed days or months to
celebrate the festivals (Dahal, ibid).
Satars observe a number of festivals all of which are related to the seasons of agriculture,
game hunting and collecting of a wild fruits and tubers (Bista, 1968 A.D.). Some rituals of the
Satars are Soharia, Vaha, Arok, Siruwa-Bishuwa, Hariyad, Dashara parwa, Janthad, Chata
Pokha, Kadam utsav and Sakarat, utsav (Dahal, 1994 A.D.).They celebrate two main festivals;
one is Soharia in winter and Vaha in spring (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.).
The Satars have the concept of bhoot-pret (Ghosts) and anger of Gods and Goddess. And they
rarely go to the hospitals for their diseases. A Satar patient is usually placed under the care and
treatment of Jhankri. Every adult Satars have the knowledge of treatment (Shrestha and Singh,
Satar dance is very popular in the tarai areas. Their dances are unique than others but it is said
that in the beginning, these people did not know dancing or singing. According to their
legends it is stated that the arts of dancing and dancing were taught to them by the Gods
themselves (Gautam, 1990 A.D.).
If we talk about the occupation of the Satars then we can find that almost all Satars do not
have standard job in Nepal. They are nomads in nature due to which they do not posses any
permanent job or occupation. They are basically poor and uneducated (Dahal, 1994 A.D.). In
India educated satars are comparatively more in numbers than in Nepal and they are found in
the post of teachers, professors, doctors, engineers, and military service, social workers,
political leaders, ministers etc (Panta, 1985 A.D.).
The Satar community gives more focus on co-operation rather than individualistic action. This
cooperative ethnic group is observable in their social, economic and religious affairs. They are
very interested in keeping their house clean. They also take interest to decorate their houses
with painted figures, geometrical patterns, birds, animals etc (Dahal, 1978 A.D.). In every
social works, they work through cooperation and coordination. Naike is chosen among them
for their religious ceremonies (Panta, 1985 A.D.).
In Nepal there are 0.181% people who speak Santhali language (CBS, 2001). Satar's language
is called Santhali or Santhal language. Some linguistics has named the language as Satar, Sotal
and Santhali due to differentiation on pronunciation (Dahal, 1994 A.D.). Their language
belongs to Munda group of Agneya-Asiatic family (Panta, 1985 A.D.). They have their own
language but they speak it at their house and group only. They can speak Nepali well and
clear. They have their own script called Al-Chiki, which is developed by pandit Raghunath
Murmu in 1936-37 (Dahal, 1994 A.D.). In Nepal the Satar literature is not yet in development
process but some young literate has published their articles and poems in some magazines.
Education status is very low in the Satar communities. Almost all Satars are illiterate but these
day some Satar's children can be seen going to school and till the date it is believed that their
literacy rate is increasing not highly but few (Nepal, 2004 A.D.). Not many priorities have
been given for their literacy by development agencies, and also by the less interest by
themselves towards the education. There is difficulty in increasing their literacy rate (Poudel,
Their dark complexion, curly hair and muscular well proportion bodies are very much like
those of the Tharus, but they are much worse farmers than Tharus. Their primitives'
agricultural tools and ploughs are not efficient. They show more interest in maintaining their
bows and arrows, spares and other hunting weapons than agricultural implements. They kill
and eat tigers, jackals, deer, snakes, mouse and other wild animals, which are important
supplement to the diets of maize, rice and wheat, which they grow themselves. Lots of wild
fruits and tubers are also collected which supplement their staple food (Bista, 1972 A.D.).
About the economy of the Satars, Bista says that they are much interested in hunting and
gathering the wild fruits and tubers than agriculture based economy. Some people keep cattle,
goats and chickens but many of them never milk their cattle nor do use milk or milk products.
Rajesh Gautam (1994) writes about the Satar that the major occupation of them is agriculture.
Besides this they earn money to fulfill their needs by making doko, mats, rugs, by hunting
animals which are sold, working as grass cutter for wages and also as hali or ploughman.
Though it is seen that these people do earn to live and eat, they have no idea or concept of
economics and so use up their financial resource before schedule, thus leaving them always
short of basic necessity. This is when they go to the doors of the local moneylenders and ask
for credit against their next season's crops or some such promise. It is also seen that practically
every Satar family owns a pair of oxen for ploughing and this is a great help to their life.
Satars work purely as agricultural laborers (Dahal, 1978). Many of them work as labor in
agricultural field (Mechi Dekhi Mahakali Samma, 1974 A.D.). Because of an inseparable part
of their customs, hunting is their main job but due to the strictness over the forest areas by
administrative, they are facing problems these days. Today they are mostly found as tea labors
in Jhapa and some of them also work as peasant in some part of the district (Dahal, 1994
In a study it is found that the agriculture is the main occupation of the Satar people.
Deforestation of their nearby forest compelled them to change their traditional agricultural
practices. Hence, they have also started to use modern agricultural tools such as plough, rake,
spade etc. Similarly they use chemical fertilizer, improved varieties of seeds and insecticide
for the purpose of agricultural production. Prasain has noted on changes of their economic life.
He says that the Satar people who are famous for hunting, gathering occupation now
influenced by the hill people and because of deforestation their mode of life is changing
(Prasain, 1985 A.D.).
Satar's economic condition is in critical. As they are economically poor, they are mentally
backward too. The reason of the backwardness is the uncooperative to each other. All the
Satar families are economically and educationally poor except one or two families. Some
Satar families have not more than 1/8 hectors of land for earning capital. They do not know
the other economic activities than agriculture (Panta, 1985 A.D.). Land holdings record from
Jhapa district verified that till 1970 B.S. no Satars were land holders in Jhapa (Dahal, 1978
About the Satar women, there are also known many things. Hunting, gathering was their
traditional occupation. When a Satar man started to work he used to engage himself in hunting
and gathering. These hunting and gathering weapons are bows, arrows, spears, axes, hoc etc.
Men basically practice hunting while women participate in fishing; however the hunting and
gathering occupation has considerably declined. It is already mentioned that the forest are in
their vicinity has been deforested. Therefore hunting gathering is done in only ritual
ceremonies (Prasain, 1985 A.D.).
In the book quot;Jhapa Ka Adibashiquot; (1985) written by Sastra Dutta Panta, the writer noted that
the Satar women equally participate in every types of economic work with their man. They
also participate in agricultural work. They do not only work on household activities but on
husbandry, agricultural, collecting tubers and wild foods etc. It is not found that Satar women
participating in hunting. On the other hand, the Satar women do more job in fishing than the
In comparison of Satar, Rajbanshi people have made their economic condition sound and the
Dhimal and Meche has reached in front of the process of life race. The main reason of
economic backward is due to the reasons of traditional, religious customs, extremely innocent
and illiteracy (ibid: 49).
The Satar people are said to be same as Santhal of Bihar. They are nomads, who travel back
and forth across the Nepal-India border. They shift one area to another and come back to the
original place few years later. They may be said to practice shifting cultivation which in
contrast to other tribal and mountainous parts of Asia, is not common in Nepal. They
supplement their income from agriculture, fishing and hunting (Shah, 1975 A.D.). Shah talks
about the economy of the Satars, which is based on agriculture and support by fishing and
hunting, which is traditional occupation of the Satar people.
After agriculture their economy is based on hunting and gathering. They eat rats and wild
animals. They are very much interested in hunting big animals (Sharma, 1976 A.D.). Sharma
writes about the interest of the Satar people by hunting the wild animals and gathering wild
foods and tubers.
quot;Hunting is another traditional source on subsistence for the Chepangs of Kahdrang khola.
They are conversant with the use of bows and arrows and their hunting consists of mostly of
trapping and sharing animals with the assistance of dogs which accompany them on their
wanderings. Fishing among Chepangs of this place is a common scene which is done almost
throughout the year. The Chepang eat and sell all varieties of fish including Tadpoles and
crabsquot; (Gurung, 1978 A.D.).
In Nepal it is always found that the upper caste people dominate lower caste people. Some
time these upper caste people use forces to the lower caste people for capturing the fertile land
and by this process the lower caste groups are becoming poorer and poorer everyday. In the
groups of forced lower caste people, Satars are also included so many times. And the result
came so worst that almost all the Satars became agricultural labors of upper caste people these
days and this is not happening only in Jhapa but also in Morang and Sunsari district where
majority of Satars people are living (The Eastern Echo: 15th April 2002).
Many books had been written and many articles were published about the Satars group but
they are not sufficient for total information of them.
Dalton (1972) presented a detailed and descriptive of the Satar people about their origin,
ancestral history, housing pattern, festivals, religion etc but he doesn't talk about the socio-
cultural change that occurred in their life throughout the past. His book has missed to present
the life of Satar people of any specific places. He doesn't present the life of the Satar people of
any specific place. He explained the life of the Satar people of India in general, which might
be different from one place to another. The life of other people living in the same place might
influenced by the life of Satar, but he didn't mentioned and change that occurred in their life.
Prasain (1985) in his book only mentioned on one factor, the declining of hunting and
gathering occupation but he doesn't talk about the influences of the hill people and their
(Satars) full time engage in agriculture, which is much dependable for the betterment of their
economic condition than that of hunting and gathering.
Rishikesh Shah (1975) gave the various aspects of Nepali history, culture and art. He also
touch the life of Satar in general but he doesn't make the detail study about the origin, the way
of life, economy, housing pattern, village polity, language etc.
Satars are faced with twin problems of maintaining a separate cultural identity and
establishing their place within a separate Hindu culture (Ghimire, 1980 A.D.). Here Ghimire
gave a short ethnographic picture of Satars including their festivals, she only talks about the
falling of their culture but she fails to explain the factor, which become the obstacle in
establishing the cultural identity. She also forgets to mention the changes that occurred and
influenced the socio-cultural lives of Satars.
Scholar such as Daulat Bikram Bista's quot;Satar Haruko Rititithiquot; (1967 A.D.) and S.L.
Shrestha's quot;Hami Nepaliquot; (1982 A.D.) have made an attempt to give and ethnographic picture
of Satar community of Nepal describing different aspects of their lives, however, their studies
are not so important from sociological and anthropological point of view.
The books and articles written by other scholars (Shah, Dahal, Sharma, Shrestha, and Bista)
have only introductory and basic information on Satars. But they are important to learn about
Satar. Travel accounts and books on the Satars such as quot;Nepali Samaj Ek Adhyanquot; by Janak
Lal Sharma (1982), quot;Satar Sanskriti Ek Chinariquot; by M.R. Kattel (1985), quot;An Ethnographic
Study of Satar People” by Premlata Ghimire (1980), quot;Satar Jati Ra Bhasaquot; (1965), quot;Rup-
Rekhaquot; (1967) by Jivanath Prasain, quot;A Note on the Nepalese Satar Festivals of Shoarai and
Patamalaquot; by Premlata Ghimire (1980), quot;Ethnic Group of Nepal and their way of livingquot; by
C.B. Shrestha (1972), quot;Nepali Janajeevanquot; by N. Sharma (1976), quot;Nepal District Profilequot; by
C.D. Aryal (1982) and Anne Buggeland (1994) has helped in understanding the different
aspects of the Satars of Nepal.
3.1 Rationale of the Selection of the Study Area
The proposed study was carried out in the Chandragadhi VDC of Jhapa district.
The Satars of the study area are one of the primitive indigenous ethnic groups. There are about
77 families of Satar are living in the study area. Their economic condition is very poor despite
they are rich in their culture. They are being exploited by the so called upper caste and elite
people. So the present study has tried to trace out the socio-economic stat s of Satar.
3.2 Research Design
In order to fulfill the objectives of this study, descriptive and analytical systems were used. In
accordance to above set objectives, the study was carried out in a systematic way.
3.3 Sources of Data
In this study, both primary as well as secondary data were considered.
3.3.1 Primary Data
The primary data were collected using questionnaire, from each selected households. Each
sampling households were selected by simple random sampling method. The households'
details, according to questionnaire, were collected through the direct contact with Satar
3.3.2 Secondary Data
The numbers of secondary data were taken out from the published books, journals and
documents of Nepal.
3.4 Total Population and Sample
Among the total household of the Satar of Chandragadhi VDC, 65 percent was selected as
sample on the basis of simple random sampling method. Actual house holds of Satar people in
the study area were taken from the VDC office. Among 77, only 50 households were taken for
the study purpose. Samplings were taken from each ward (Table 1).
3.5 Method of Data Collection
To collect the required data, an individual was selected from the sampled household and
interviewed from sample households' heads to get information. For the personal interview, a
pre-designed questionnaire was used. The observation method was used specially to know
about the socio-economic aspects of Satar people. The data were thoroughly checked, edited
and tabulated to make the data set suitable for analysis. Data processing was performed with
the help of simple calculator, computer and other electronic and manual devices.
W.N. Total households Sampled households
1 20 15
2 15 10
3 9 7
4 10 6
5 9 5
6 4 2
7 3 1
8 6 3
9 1 1
Total 77 50
Source: CHN VDC Office, 2005.
3.6 Data Presentation and Analysis
The collected data were quantified by tabulating. Qualitative data was arranged systematically
and processed by editing, classifying and tabulating.
In this study, analytical as well as descriptive methods were used to analyze the data and
information. Necessary maps were used whenever appropriate in the presentation of text.
After analyzing the data and information, necessary conclusion and recommendation have
This chapter presents the geographical setting of the study area. It is further divided into
location, Chandragadhi village development committee, rivers and rivulets of the VDC, floras
and faunas, soil, population characteristics of Chandragadhi VDC, distribution of population
on the basis of ethnic group and economicactivities of the people of Chandragadhi VDC.
4.1 District Profile
Jhapa is one of the four district of Mechi zone which lies in eastern development region of
Nepal. It covers that land of Mechi zone which is divided into two parts by the Kankai river.
Jhapa district is bounded by West Bengal and Bihar, states of India in the east and south
respectively, Ilam district in the north and Morang district in the west. It lies between 870 39 to
8500 15' longitude and 260 20 to 260 50' latitude. Most part of the district lie in the tarai and it
comprises a narrow strip of alluvial plain having very low altitude ranging from 100 ft. to
1800 ft. above the sea level. The major rivers of the district are Mechi, Kankai, Biring,
Ratuwa and Deoniya (See map on page no. 21).
The district comprises a total area of 1606 square kilometer with 137301 households
comprising 688109 of population, where male population is 341675 and female population is
346434 (CBS, 2001). Bhadrapur Municipality is the district's headquarter.
Since the country is divided into five development regions, Jhapa is one of the largest districts
of the eastern development region. The proposed study has been concentrated on the
Chandragadhi VDC of Jhapa district.
The climate of Jhapa is sub tropical and temperate. The average temperature varies from 36 to
390 in summer and 9 to 120 in winter respectively. The average rainfall is 2518 millimeter,
which occurs mostly during the monsoon from June to September (Meteorological Section,
4.3 Chandragadhi Village Development Committee
Administratively, Jhapa is divided into 47 VDCs and 3 municipalities. Out of these 47 VDCs
Chandragadhi is one of them. Its area is 45 square kilometer with north south length about 9
km and width of east west is about 5 km. Chandragadhi VDC is bounded by Duhagadhi VDC
on the north, Mahespur VDC on the south, Bhadrapur municipality and Jyamirgadhi VDC on
the east and Haldibari and Garamani VDC on the west. From Kathmandu it takes 1 hour by
flight and 12 hours by bus to reach there.
Chandragadhi has the total population of 16,052 with 7971 male, and 8081 female and
household number is 3303. Out of the total population, the Rajbanshi are the major ethnic
group of the area whose population is 2699. Chandragadhi VDC is situated at the height of 93
meter above the sea level. This VDC has covered about 3950 biggha of land (See map on page
The climate of Chandragadhi VDC is not so different from that of the Jhapa district. As the
climate of Jhapa had been already mentioned before hence, the researcher has not taken
importance to deal with the climate of Chandragadhi in this section.
4.4 Rivers and Rivulets of the VDC
In Chandragadhi VDC, there are mainly two rivers known as Ninda which flows on the
eastern side, and another one is Deonia that flows along the western side of the VDC. Beside
these two main rivers, there are also many other rivulets such as Virchuli, Singivitta, Handia,
4.5 Flora and Fauna
At present, in Chandragadhi VDC no dense forest area is found. However, we cannot say that
there are not any sorts of floras. Previously, Chandragadhi was highly dense forest, but due to
the new settlement program most of the forest was destroyed. Floras like Sisau, Saal (Shorea
robusta), Simal (Salmelia wallichi), Tanki (Bauhinia purpurea) etc. are found in this VDC
which are very useful for timber and firewood purposes.
Due to the lack of dense forest various sorts of faunas are not available. The main common
faunas available in this VDC are deer, wild boar, jackal etc and birds like sparrow, crow,
peacock, maina, dove and many others.
Basically, there are five types of soil found in Chandragadhi VDC such as black soil, loam
soil, matteulo yellow soil, sand soil and other wetly and rocky soil. The high yield is produced
from the black soil and loam soil. Rest of the soil for high yield is not so important. People
cultivate different types of crops in these soils. Types of soil are shown below in the table:
Types of Soil
Types of Soil Area in Biggha Percentage
Black soil 984 2491
Loam soil 1600 40.50
Matteulo soil 785 19.88
Sandy soil 355 8.98
Other wetly and rock soil 266 5.73
Total 2950 100.00
Source: VDC Office (2005).
4.7 Population Characteristics of the Chandragadhi VDC
The total population of the Chandragadhi VDC is 16052. Out of this total population, male are
7971 and female are 8081.
Distribution of Population on the Basis of Ethnic Group
S.N. Ethnic Group Number
1 Brahmin-Hill 6127
2 Chhetri 2144
3 Rajbanshi 2699
4 Satar 548
5 Newar 517
6 Rai 462
7 Limbu 281
8 Gharti/Bhujel 216
9 Kami 209
10 Tamang 199
11 Magar 197
12 Gangai 132
13 Damai/Dholi 110
14 Dalit 110
15 Muslim 106
16 Tharu 100
17 Others 1895
Source: CBS, 2001.
From the above table we found that the highest population of Chandragadhi VDC is the
Brahmin and the second highest is of Rajbanshi followed by Chhetri, Satar etc.
Population by Mother Tongue for Chandragadhi VDC
S.N. Mother tongue Number
1 Nepali 10096
2 Rajbanshi 2893
3 Santhali 609
4 Newari 262
5 Maithali 253
6 Limbu 260
7 Hindi 195
8 Bantawa 194
9 Tamang 97
10 Magar 88
11 Tharu 55
12 Bhojpuri 37
13 Urdu 22
14 Bengali 19
15 Gurung 18
16 Jhangar 18
17 Dhimal 17
18 Others 919
Source: CBS Nepal, 2001.
From the above table we found that the highest population of mother tongue in Chandragadhi
VDC is Nepali and the second highest is Rajbanshi followed by Santhali, Newari etc.
4.7.1 Educational Situation
There are six primaries, two lower secondary, two secondary, two higher secondary schools in
the VDC. Total school going children are 4567. Out of total population 69.45% are literate
(CHN VDC: 2062).
4.7.2 Social Organizations and Industries
There are many social, economic and some religious organizations working in the VDC.
Industries of all kinds can be seen there. Cement, brick and tea industries are some big
industries. While saw mills, rice mills etc are medium and other small types of industries are
also prevalent there.
4.8 Economic Activities of the People of Chandragadhi VDC
The people of Chandragadhi VDC have adopted various types of occupation like agriculture,
animal husbandry, services, tailoring, business, wage labor etc. Out of all these occupation,
they give more preferences to agriculture. As Nepal is an agrarian country, so the majority of
them depend on subsistence agricultural economy. They grow various types of crops like tea,
rice, maize, wheat, mustard etc. Besides these they also produce different kinds of vegetables
such as potatoes, and cash crops such as jute which they sel to the near by markets.
Agriculture cycle begin from Chaitra-Baisakh (March-April) when maize is sown. In the
Asad-Shrawan (June-July) they plant paddy in their fields. Wheat is harvested in Baisakh and
Jestha (May-June). Maize is harvested in the month of Shrawan-Bhadra (August-September).
The method of cultivation is still traditional that is they plough their fields through plough and
yoke. But these days some of them have started using tractors for digging furrows the soil and
for the purpose of high yields. Some of them have started using chemical fertilizer and
improved varieties of seeds. Because of the newly constructed irrigation Hadiya kulo (Hadiya
stream) people of the Chandragadhi VDC have got some opportunity to increase their
Map No. 1
Map of Jhapa District
Source: DDC Jhapa
SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC PROFILE OF THE
5.1 Social Profile
5.1.1 Age and Sex Structure
Age play an important role for human beings. Man can achieve his target in fix time of his
age. If every man actively participates in economy, social, religious and other organization
then they can achieve their goals for their life. By this not only a single man but a family,
village and a country can run smoothly on the way of development. Without participating in
these institutions the country always remains underdeveloped. But for active participation the
age of the human being is very important. Before 15 and after 60 it is not known as suitable
age of active participation. It is like a universal truth that the age between 15 to 60 is suitable
for participating in every economic and other activity. If this age group did not function
properly then no any country canbe developed.
According to the population census of 2001, the total population of Satar in Jhapa district is
23172 and in the study area they are in number of 548. The population of the Satars in
Chandragadhi accounts for 3.41% of the total population of Jhapa district.
Age and Sex Structure of the Respondents
S.N Age and Sex Males Percent Females Percent Total Percent
Structure of the
1 0-15 - - - - - -
2 15-59 37 74 4 8 41 82
3 60 above 8 16 1 2 9 18
Total 45 90 5 10 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
The above table 5 shows that among all 50 respondents 74% are male and 8% are female,
whose age is between 15-59 and 16% are male and 2% are female whose age is 60 and above.
This table shows that the Satar women are more backward than males although they get equal
freedom in comparison to the males in their society.
5.1.2 Educational Attainment
Education is an essential factor for the development of the society. It also helps to achieve
upward mobility. As a means it does various works for the benefit of the people. Education
brings consciousness. For country like Nepal education plays vital role in developing
knowledge and skills of people. Thus education becomes one of the sources of economic
development. But in Nepal literacy rate is very low. Among them poor and low caste or ethnic
group's children do not go to school. People belong to low income category and low castes or
ethnic groups are deprived of formal education. The respondents were asked whether they and
their children are literate or not. Table 6 shows that out of total 50 respondents 82.22% were
illiterate and only 17.78% were literate. Total five female respondents were illiterate. When
the respondents were asked about their children's education then they show little interest in
sending their children to school (table 7). It was found that in total 50 households 25 boys and
14 girls were attending primary level school and 1 male was attending secondary level. Only 1
male was found who had just taken the SLC exam and no females were found who were
above than primary level of school. It indicates that female literacy is not so important in Satar
community. Their economic condition doesn't support all the children to be educated. Most of
the respondents answer about the education that they cannot eat by sending their children to
school. They think that alternate works are more beneficial and give quicker returns than the
Educational Attainment of the Respondent
S.N Educational Male Percent Female Percent Total Percent
1 Literate 8 17.78 - - 8 17.78
2 Illiterate 37 82.22 5 - 42 82.22
Total 45 100 5 - 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
Educational Attainments of the Respondent's Children
S.N. Level Male Female Total
1 Primary Level 24 14 38
2 Secondary Level 1 - 1
3 SLC and above 1 - 1
Total 26 14 40
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
5.1.3 Settlements and House Types
Cultural environment diversities are distinctly reflected through the pattern, types and form of
the settlements. Tarai ethnic group like Satar and Rajbanshi have their houses in compact
settlement i.e. they stay together within their groups. A cluster of 10 to 20 houses is quite
common in each settlement. The houses of hill people are separate compared to other ethnic
groups. They are settled randomly all over the study area. The distribution pattern of
settlement is observed to be affected by the following three factors.
1. Cultural resemblance- In relation to caste and value system e.g. Brahmin settlements
are different from Satar, Rajbanshi and Rai settlements and so on.
2. Availability of resource base- In relation to availability of forest, water sources,
grazing/pasture land e.g. mixed settlement pattern is found near the jungle.
3. Land form- In relation to topography e.g. Pahade village is usually found in relatively
open, flat and upper land where as Satar village is found in compact dwelling in a
Other villages such of Brahmin, Chhetri etc are little far away from the Satar village in the
study area. Seeing the availability of resource base, it is near forest, water source and grazing
land from the Satar's area.
The houses of the Satars are made up of bamboo latticed wall which are plastered with the
cow dung and mud. The Satar villagers consist of several families living inside a compact
social unit. The Satar house is single storey hut. It has thatched roof slopping towards two
sides. The external as well as internal walls are made of branches of bamboo plasters over
with a mixture of clay, cow dung and paddy husks. There is considerable space between the
floor and the summit of roof. This space is used for storing household items hanging on ropes.
The interior space of house is divided into three rooms by the clay wall which is used as
bedroom. All the members of family married or unmarried sleep in house room and one room
is used as kitchen which is too used as bedroom after the family eats the night meal.
Family is a group of persons united by the ties of marriage, blood, adoption and constituting a
single household and interacting and inter communicating with each other in their respective
social roles of the husband and wife, mother and father, son and daughter, brother and sister
creating a common cultural system (Shrestha, 1986: 35). Without family we can't imagine a
society. Family is a basic unit of society so it can be said that the human history is the history
of families. From sociological point of view, there are different kinds of families e.g. nuclear,
joint and extended. Family differentiated on the basis of their structure.
Family Types of the Respondents
S.N Types of Family No. of Family Percentage
1 Nuclear 39 78
2 Joint 10 20
3 Extended 1 2
Total 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
(a) Nuclear Family
Nuclear family consists of married couple with or without their unmarried children. In the
nuclear family system, there is no system of economic co-operation between the brothers.
Also, the nuclear family is always free from the control of the elders. Among the 50
households of Satar in the study area it has been found that 78% families are living under
nuclear family system. Sometimes, it contains one or two other members such as unmarried
sister or widow mother or widow father or unmarried brother or widows, brother's wife.
(b) Joint Family
In a joint family not only parents and children, but also brothers and step brothers live in a
common property. In other words, if two or more married brothers live together with or
without their children it is called joint family system. Among the 50 households of Satar in the
study area it has been found that 20% households of the Satar family are in joint family
system. By this table we can know that few Satar people prefer to live in a joint family system.
In a research field, most of the Satars have been in labor and agriculture. To do different sorts
of works, it requires much manpower in the joint family. If there are many brothers in a joint
family one can engage in agriculture and others can engage in labor, animal husbandry and
other sorts of occupation. That's why joint family system has enough manpower to get work
The Satar people of the research area are not fully practicing the joint family system. The
Satars have an ideal living joint family from their tradition. But now-a-days, their changing
socio-economic milieu has compelled them to practices the nuclear family. The resources in
Satar's families are found to be appropriate for joint families but if they don't have enough
cash for the maintenance of the joint family, they won't be in joint family according to one
respondent in my research area.
(c) Extended Family
This type of family system consists of two or more nuclear families affiliated through on
extension of the parents-child relationship, rather than of the husband-wife relationship, that is
by joining the nuclear family of a married adult to that of these parents as stated earlier on
extended. In the study area, out of 50 households of Satar families only 2% households were
found to be made of extended family.
However, most of the families are nuclear family in the study area. Then comes the joint and
at last the extended one. The family size varies from five to twenty members in the research
area. The average family consists of 6-7 persons in the study area.
The term kin or kinship system is part of the social structure. It includes definite social groups
of which the most important is the family. According to Winick (1992: 154), kinship system
may include socially recognized relationship based on supposed as well as actual genealogical
ties. In defining kinship, Majumdar and Madan has said, quot;In all societies, people are bound
together in groups by various kinds of ties. The most universal and most basic at these bonds
is that which is based on reproduction, an inherent human drive, which is called kinship in
sociology and anthropology.
The desire of reproduction gives rise to two kinds of bonds. Firstly, there is a bond between
parents and their children and that between siblings. The first kind of bond which arises out of
a socially or legally defined marriage relationship is called affinal kinship. The affinal kin are
not connected to each other through blood. The relationship based on the blood ties for e.g.
relationship of parents and their children is called consanguineous and affinal are found in
every human society. There are two types of kinship among Satar people, viz, consanguineous
and affinal kinship.
Satar community is divided into twelve clan-units. They don't marry within their own clan.
According to one old respondent in the study area these twelve clans are:-
The Satar people in Chandragadhi VDC have the terms to refer to Satar relations such as Gago
(Mother), Baba (Father), Wapon (Son), Dada (Own brother, mother's father's son), Hadomba
(Father's father, mother's mother) etc. Satars are prohibited to marry within the same kin
group. If anyone breaks the marriage's rule in their society, there is a rule to fine that person
up to hundred rupees and at least of one hundred meals of boiled rice. Once the wrong person
pays this fine then he is forgiven for his offence and taken back into the community.
5.2 Economic Profile
This study is basically concerned in dealing with the general economic activities of the Satar
people of the study area. Though the main economic activities of the Satar people lie in the
agriculture, wage labor, animal husbandry, service, fishing and hunting are equally important
in Satar economy. They also engage in digging mud, female in making the Chatai and they
sell it in the market and use some for themselves in their households. Besides this, some
female members are engaged in fishing and male in hunting gathering too. Usually, they do
hard work such as ploughing or going to the forest and cutting firewood even when they are in
wage labor in the city area. Animal husbandry and domestic works such as cooking, washing
dish, making the chatai and cleaning the houses are the jobs of Satar women. More than two
decades, their agro based economy was supplemented by hunting and gathering. They
produced technologically less developed agricultural tools so that their food production was
unable to solve their food consumption. They relied on the forest resources mainly hunting
and gathering. The hunting gathering weapons of Satar people are/were bows, spears, axes,
hoe, arrows etc. They use/used bows and arrows for the purpose of killing birds, animals,
where as use/ed spears and axes for killing other big animals. In the past they used to trap
animals basically practiced hunting life while women did the gathering. Hunting and gathering
occupation has been declining continuously at present because forest has been destroyed now
compared to the past. That's why this occupation is done only in their festivals at present.
Satars are one of the poor ethnic groups of Nepal. They came to Nepal more than a decade ago
but till now they are living under the poverty line. Today most of the Satars work as a wage
labor for the upper caste people of tarai of eastern part of Nepal especially in Jhapa Morang
and Sunsari district. Besides this some of them can be found in private sectors and government
job but in very lower level like peon, driver, gardener etc.
Occupation of the Respondents
S.N Occupation of the Respondents No. of Respondents Percent
1 Agriculture - -
2 Livestock 1 2
3 Government job 2 4
4 Social service - -
5 Trade Business 1 2
6 Labor 44 88
7 Others 2 4
Total 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
From the above table 9, it is found that almost all Satars are working as a labor. Out of total 50
respondents 88% are labor, 2% are engaged in livestock and 2% in trade business. Only 4%
was found in a government job but in lower post like driver, peon etc and 4% are engaged in
other job like sport and carpenter. This table shows the poverty of Satars people as they work
as a wage labor in maximum number and their main sources of income is becoming a wage
labor on farms.
126.96.36.199 Employment in Other Areas/Sectors
Satars daily activities include doing a hard work in the agricultural fields of their masters. In
return they only get about one kilo of rice and 5-60 rupees per day. It is not sufficient for
feeding their children, so, they try to earn some more money by working as a laborer in the
field of construction and other kinds of works in the cities. Usually, such kinds of works are
done by the male members. Basically women and children are engaged in household work and
live as servants for the rich people. Though Satar people are not directly linked with the trade,
they sell their agricultural products such as rice, fishes, vegetables and other things in the
market and buy clothes and other necessary items of daily use such as salt, oil, spices etc. So,
their main source of subsistence is agriculture rather than trade. Trade is their occasional
5.2.2 Size of Land Holding
Although Satars are living in Nepal for more than a decade they are still considered as landless
people. It can be clear from the surveys done in the past that almost all Satars are landless and
those who have land are very few in numbers and can be counted easily. These people didn't
get the opportunity to register their own land during the time of land survey. It is because of
Brahmins, Chhetri and other high caste people who have settled in their area were clever than
the Satars. These high caste people registered the un-registered cultivated land of Satars in
their own name. So due to the lack of land holding capacity most of the Satar people of the
study area were found cultivating other's land on the basis of agricultural labor. This can be
seen from the following table.
Size of Landholding of the Respondents
S.N Land Size No of Agricultural Percent Barren Land Percent
Respondents Land of HH of HH
1 Biggha - - - -
2 Kattha 2 - - 3 Kattha 4
3 Dhur - - - - -
4 Landless 48 - - - 96
Total 50 - - 3 Kattha 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
Above table shows that out of total 50 respondents only 4% are landowners whose land is only
3 kattha and remaining all 96% are land less. This shows that majority of the Satars are
landless. Again those 96% landless Satars were asked if they don't have land then where they
are living. From the table below it can be seen that among all 96% landless Satars 62.5% are
living in other's land and 37.5 are living in empty unclaimed land under government's
Landless Respondents and their Settlement
S.N Land No. of Respondents Percent
1 Others 30 62.5
2 Empty Unclaimed Land under 18 37.5
Total 48 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
The lack of sufficient land is forcing Satars to depend on various other occupations to solve
their hand to mouth problems.A Satar does many things for living.
5.2.3 Annual Income
The economic condition of the Satars of Chandragadhi VDC is extremely low. For
generations, Satars have lived a semi-nomadic existence like hunting, food gathering, as well
as some slash and burn cultivation, which rely considerably on the forest for much of their
food and other necessities of life. Living in primitive stage in poverty amidst plenty of
problems they are among the most economically backward communities of the nation. The
major sources of cash income in Chandragadhi VDC are wage labor. Besides these, they earn
money by working in a small factory and small business houses. Mostly they do the wage
labor in nearby villages by ploughing, spading, crop plantation, and the harvesting, but this
sort of employment is only available during plantation and harvesting seasons. So the daily
wage labor is the main economic activity of their livelihood.
Annual Income of the Respondents
S.N Annual Income No. of Respondents Percent
1 Less than 10000 - -
2 10000-20000 21 42
3 20000-40000 22 44
4 40000 and above 7 14
Total 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
The above table shows that out of 50 respondents 42% earn Rs. 10000-20000 per year, 44%
earn Rs. 20000-40000 and only 14% earn Rs. 40000 and above annually. By the field survey
of the researcher it is found that these 42% Satars whose income is between Rs.10000-20000
annually, their expenditure on food is about 100%. So by that earned money they cannot buy
clothes, medicines and other things. 44% whose annual income is Rs. 20000-40000, their
expenditure sometimes goes to clothes, medicine, entertainment etc and 14% whose income is
40000 and above per year they have no any problem for clothing, medicating and
entertainment but, they cannot use their moneywhole year for these purposes.
In the case of deficit these Satar people use to take loan from local money lenders, their
masters, their relatives, friends etc. But they haven't taken any loan from the banks. In the
study area researcher found that some Satar people are bounded by loan. It was found that
among total 50 households 48% has taken loan from different sources and 52% haven't taken
any loan. Their loan amount is from Rs.200 to Rs. 6000. We can see it by the table below.
No. of Respondents who took Loan
S.N. Respondents Number Percent
1 Took Loan 24 48
2 Didn't Take Loan 26 52
Total 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
A source of subsistence for Satar people is animal husbandry. For the purpose of ploughing
land they keep oxen. For selling and milking they keep cows, buffalos etc. But, due to the lack
of space usually they keep small animals and birds like goats, pigs, chicken, pigeon and ducks
that would provide them with eggs and meat. They are needed in their various rituals. They
also sell cows, goats, chicken, pigeons, pigs, and ducks in the market and earn money for
buying essentials such as cloth, oil, salt and other goods. In this way their subsistence
economy is supplemented by animal husbandry to some extent. Focusing the importance of
the cattle, an Indian writer Marvin Harris writes: When oxen fall sick, a poor farmer is in
danger of loosing his farm. If he has to replace for it, he has to barrow money at various rate.
The Indian farmer who cannot replace his sick or deceased ox is in the same situation as an
American farmer who can neither replace nor repair his broken tractor. But there is an
important difference: tractors are made by factories but oxen are made by cows. A farmer who
owns a cow owns a factory for making oxen (1975:6).
The Satars of the study area are not so rich so they cannot buy tractors. In rural Nepal in
general and particular in the study area, if a farmer owns a cow or female buffalo he/she owns
a factory for producing bullocks and buffalo needed for ploughing land and pulling a cart.
Table below shows the number of livestock owned by the respondents.
Number of Livestock among all Respondents
S.N. Types No. of Livestock
1 Cow 5
2 Buffalo 3
3 Goats 10
4 Chicken 130
5 Pig 15
6 Others 2
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
The above table shows that among all respondents maximum had kept chicken for their
purpose. Then come pigs, goats, cows, buffalos and other respectively. By this table we can
know that chicken is popular among Satars because of less space to keep them. Another table
below shows that among 50 respondents 80% have livestock and 20% do not have anything in
the name of livestock.
Number of Respondents Having Livestock
S.N Respondents Number Percent
1 Having Livestock 40 80
2 Not Having Livestock 10 20
Total 50 100
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
5.3 Cultural Profile of the Satars
This chapter is concerned in dealing with the general cultural character of Satar people of the
research area e.g. religion, and religious activities, foods and drinks, dress and ornaments,
dances and songs, feast and festivals, life cycle and religious ceremonies etc. Cultures are
developed to cope with their natural settings and social milieu. Understanding this view, there
have been also developed some cultural things being influenced from the natural settings and
social milieu in the study area which have given below continuously.
5.3.1 Religion and Religious Activities
The phenomenon called religion is extremely variegated, complex, intricate and full of
paradox. It includes such facts as celebration despair, ethical vigor, mystery, social activism,
animal sacrifice, ritual beliefs and dogmas about natural and super natural etc. Each and every
body knows that religion is a part of culture. Each and every society of the world does have its
own religious tradition. The religion of every ethnic group is interwoven with their religious
processes. The Satars are rigid in their religious beliefs. Each and every part of their cultural
activity is closely related with the religious myths. Though the Satars are Hindus by religion,
they also worship their own type of God and Goddess which are not included in Hindu
Most of the scholars mentioned different types of God, Goddess and deit es of Satar People. In
the area of this research, the researcher found that all the Satar people are Hindus. Some God
and goddess they worship and the rituals they perform are similar to the Hindu God and
Goddess and Hindu rituals. They had a belief in the creation of the Earth by God as Hindu.
But they believe that their God Thakur Jyu created the earth. Morang Baru and Ato Bonga are
their ancestral Gods. These are the main Gods in the Satar community. In the study area the
researcher contacted one key informant and tries to know about these Gods and Goddesses
which are briefly explained as follow.
Gods and Goddesses
(1) Thakur Jyu
Thakur Jyu and Morang Baru is the same God in the Satar community. In their community
they had a belief that Thakur Jyu is the main God who created man and earth. They don't
believe in Brahma (Hindu God) the main creator of earth according to the Hindu mythology.
Satar people also have a belief in invisible power. They meant that God is like a mountain and
some have the view that this God is as bright as sun. There is no typical feature of this God.
During the time of sorrow or trouble, Morang Baru is worshipped by them. They sacrifice
goat, pig, pigeon, chicken etc. for the propitiation of this God.
(2) Ato Bango
In the concept of people Ato Bango is a village deity. They make a small house for this deity
near the Satar village. They make a small roof of grass or tin known as Majhi in the village
and when the groom comes from other village he has to worship this God first. In their
language, they call it 'than'. They give little part of their new crops every year. They worship
this God on the month of Mangsir. If some have quarrel, they swear on this God then they
(3) Bhitri (Family God)
In Satar community, Bhitri is the family God of the Satar. In their family, the eldest male
performs the Puja to this God. They had a belief that whether some one is sick or ill in the
family, the main cause is that the God is angry with them. They worship this God also when
they enter the new crops in their houses and in Dasain festival.
(4) Jaher Ada
In Satar community, Jaher Ada is a goddess and messenger of the God Thakur Jyu. They have
a belief that this Goddess will take the message to the God. Before doing any work, they
worship first this Goddess. So this Goddess is also important in Satar community.
(5) Gosai Ada
In the concept of Satar people, this Goddess gives suggestion and solution for women's
(6) Modeko Tuerai
In Satar's belief this God will appear in the sky as stars. This God give the notice of the world
and what is happening in the world.
Traditionally, Satar people used kitchen untensils made of clay and spoons made of wood. But
now a day they have started using brass, bronze and steel utensils. But during marriage
ceremonies or any other religious and traditional ceremonies they use banana leaf in place of
plates. Banana leaf is integral part of their any type of ceremony and functions in the Satar
community. Banana leaf has helped them in continuing their tradition and saving time, work
and money. Even wealthy families used the banana leaf to serve food during feast and
festivals. Bamboo is also an important part in Satar families. For domestic purpose they use
Nanglo, Chalni, and Dalo etc, which all are made from bamboo and prepared by them.
5.3.3 Food and Drink
Almost all Satar people can be found as non-vegetarian. Meat is their staple food. They have
fish, pork, mutton, chicken and rat meat too. Their food consists of meat, rice, potatoes and
vegetables. How ever they don't eat buff and beef. Some of them take the snakes which are not
so much poisonous. In other words, they take the meat of animals as well as wild fruits, roots
In their community, they have drinking habit naturally. They have local Raksi (Liquor) most
of the time, they are fond of smoking Chutti or Chur (made of tobacco rolled with within the
leaf of Sal tree), Bidi and cigarette in their dail life.
Most of the Satar people of Nepal are landless. So their economic condition is very low or
poor. These Satar are unable to get food for their meal. In spite of hard work, they always
have to face hand to mouth problem although they used to be hunters. They are now unable to
get anything for food by hunting because of lack of forest and strictness by law. They never
hesitate to use alcohol. But basically they use these things in ceremonial occasions. It carries
some elements of truth when it is said that the main reason of their poor economic condition is
the popularity of alcohol in their society.
Some Christian Satars use to take beef but Hindu Satars do not. In the past, they used to take
their breakfast at 7/8 o'clock in the morning of the summer season, lunch at 1/2 o'clock and
dinner in the evening. Their lunch is prepared or cooked in the evening of the previous day.
Now, they have followed the same time in having food pattern in their community.
5.3.4 Dresses and Ornaments
Dresses and ornaments are important things to identify caste or community. Often the dress
and ornaments used by the community are different from that of another on their social,
economic, religious and geographical conditions. Satars have their own kind of dresses and
ornaments. Like most of the tarai people, male Satar wear Dhoti and Indian style shirt. They
also use a big handkerchief for the purpose of robbing sweat out of their body. In the past rule
Satars didn't use to wear slipper but now a days they put on modern dress namely shirt and
half/full pant and put on slippers and shoes too. Some rich male Satars wear modern style
Whereas the female Satars wear sari with which they cover their breast by crossing the sari
from right shoulder to waist. This sari covers the lower part of body only to knee. They wear
blouse too. In past, they didn't wear blouse but now a days the young generation of female
Satars have started wearing sari and blouse in the modern style of hill people.
Female Satars are very much interested in decorating themselves with different brass and
ornaments. They wear heavy ornaments on their neck and wear many bangles on their arms
made of brass and silver. They are very crazy of decorating themselves with flowers. Red and
green flowers are very nice for them. They decorate their hair with different colors flowers
and leaves. Some of the rich females as well as male wear gold ring, gold necklace and watch.
Most of the Satar people are very poor in the study area so they are not able to wear sufficient
dress and ornaments. Now their ornaments and dress are changing in accordance with new
fashion. They wear the bangles made of glass. They wear necklace of new style and fashion.
5.3.5 Dances and Songs
Dance and songs are very important part of Satar's socio-cultural life. Different varieties of
songs and dances of Satar people are not only their religious and recreational aspects but these
activities also indicate their ancient modes of life. Satar people are very much fond of songs
and dances during their leisure time. Such dances have passed on from one generation to
another. Most of their dances and songs are based on their traditional custom. They use dhole,
harmonium, murali and other musical items for their songs and dance programs.
Satars are very much fond of dances and songs. They dance in open space, especially in the
evening in the front of Jagmajhi's house. On the special occasions and festivals, they dance
and sing like fairs and festivals in public places. When the female Satars start dancing, that
time they are decorated with flowers, different types of ornaments and wings of peacock. The
young men decorate themselves with garlands and peacock feathers. They dance holding their
hands making two lines. One of the boys and other of the girls, walking according to specified
steps with drums and harmoniums. They show their superb ability in dancing.
Flute, drums, and harmoniums are their main instruments at the dancing time. Most of the
male Satars sing with flute. These types of songs are based on the legend myths and folk tales
in accordance with their feast and festivals. Female Satars are compulsorily taught to sing and
At present due to the massive deforestation, infiltration of hill people and their changing
socio-economic life, their traditional songs and dances are gradually declining. Some male and
female Satars have been dancing and singing like other Hindus people because of the
modernization in the study area.
5.3.6 Feasts and Festivals
Nepalese people celebrate various types of festivals according to their culture and tradition.
Almost all the festivals of Nepal are not only religious in character but they also preserve in
them a very fascinating picture of the great historical, cultural, social as well as economic
account of the people. Festivals of Nepal have unique way of diagnosis and treatment. The
Festivals of Satar people, as those of their ancient ethnic group of Nepal, play a vital role in
the national prospect.
Most of the writers have written about Satar's festivals in different ways, due to the variation
of geographical setting, socio-economic status and period of time in which festivals are
celebrated. Observing this point, on the basis of festivals of Chandragadhi VDC's, Satar
people are different from others. Sohari, baha, and yorok are the most important festivals of
the Satar people in this research area.
Some of the important festivals are:
This festival is greater than other festivals in their community. They celebrate this festival in
the month of November. In Sohari festival, Satar people anoint their cattle with oil. They give
food or grass to the ox that day. They don't do animal work that day and give rest to their
animals. Traditionally Satar people give local alcohol to the cattle.
Baha festival is the second festival in Satar community. This festival occurs in the winter and
they enjoy in this time. They have a belief that after this festival all their households as well as
other transaction of previous year will be cleared off since then new transaction will start.
Yorok festival is also important festival in satar community. Some people say it 'Dasain' and
other 'Durga Puja'. In the research area people call it 'Dasaya'. Satar people first gather in the
village's head house and moves to the public places dancing and singing. Both male and
female take part in this festival. They pay a great homage to 'Kali' or 'Durga'. Pigs, goats and
chicken are sacrificed for the Durga or Kali. They go to house to house by singing and
dancing but don't take 'Tika' on their forehead. Besides these festivals, Earak, Hariyad, Pata
etc are also observed by them but these festivals are not given so priority in the research area.
5.3.7 Life Cycle Ceremonies and Other Rituals of the Satars
In Hindu society all members observe three main rituals which we know as sanskar. All castes
celebrate these sanskars as their own culture. These ceremonies have their own cultural
importance and meaning in their society. The main life cycle ceremonies are birth, marriage
and death. Satar people also celebrate these three ceremonies in accordance to their cultural
188.8.131.52 Birth Ceremony
It is believed that the pregnancy is the natural ou come of the union between men and women.
The birth of a child in a family belonging to any community adds new dimensions to the
existing relationship between and among the family members and others associated with it.
Birth ceremony in Satar people is different from other ethnic groups. When a baby takes birth
in their society, 'Dhai Ama' is employed for caring both baby and the mother. They don't use
the modern medical treatment. The parents of the new born baby observe five days birth
pollution. After a woman begets a child, she is considered as impure. The oldest son is always
named after his grandfather and other children are named after their birthday. When the
pregnant women feel uneasy, they call Jhankri in that situation and he gives wild herbs for
easy child birth. In a fifth day special type of rice is prepared (made with leaves of Nim tree).
At first they give it to the Morang Baru, the main God of their community. Then it is
distributed to the mother and other members of the family and might be other relatives who
are present there in that situation. Satar people give more preference to the birth of a male
child because the male child has a high economy value than female child. So, the parent of the
girl have to pay bride price on the occasion of marriage, but after the age of six and seven the
male child begins to work with his father pulling the cart, ploughing, digging, carrying the
seeds, grazing the cattle of the land owners and so on. In their society, there is a tradition to
give a name to their child according to the specific dayof the birth. The days are given below.
Child Name According to the Specific Day of the Birth
Satar Nepali English
Adwa Din Aitabar Sunday
Som Sombar Monday
Mangal Mangalbar Tuesday
Budh Budhabar Wednesday
Lukhi Brihaspatibar Thursday
Shukul Sukrabar Friday
Shanibar Sanibar Saturday
Source: Field Survey, 2005.
If their child is born on Sunday, they name him 'Adwa' but when the daughter is born the
name is given 'Adewi'. Like this if the oldest daughter is born then she is given the name after
her grandmother. But the second child is given the name after the father's or uncle's name and
daughters are named after their marital grand mothers.
184.108.40.206 Hair Cutting Ceremony
Among the Satar community, when their son becomes three years old, they celebrate this
ceremony. In this ceremony, at first the hair of the son is cut by his relatives or a barber. After
that they do not perform any other recognized ceremonies till their marriage. The marriage
ceremony is dealt within the marriage sub-section.